The last of the post-sin etiquettes to observe is from a piece of advice in a hadith by Prophet Muhammad (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam):
Abû Dharr al-Ghifârî and Mu`âdh b, Jabal relate that the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam) said: “Fear Allah wherever you are. Follow up a bad deed with a good deed and it will blot it out. And deal with people in a good manner.” [ Sunan al-Tirmidhî ]
Why? Because following an apology with an action is proof of one’s sincere intention to change. You can apologize, but your apology can be mere words . So, this is a step further, moving from the realm of words to the realm of action. It’s kind of like following up an apology with a gift. The other option of course, is to follow a sin with another one, and the vicious cycle can continue. Prophet Saleh (Alayhe Assalaam) warned his people of this:
“O my people, why do you seek to hasten odious (deeds) before fair (ones)? Had you asked forgiveness from Allah, possibly you would be (offered) mercy!” (Qur’an 27:46)
What Prophet Salah (Alayhe Assalaam) is advising his people it to pause after every sin instead of chain-sinning, and follow the sin with a good deed so that sinning does not becomes a habit. Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to sinning. The heart can harden and get used to sinning and so it becomes a habit and later on a way of life.
Following a sin is like giving your heart a taste of the deliciousness of a good deed, after it has just tasted the bitterness of committing a sin. It’s like pouring water over a fire and putting it out. Inversely, chain-sinning is like pouring gasoline over an already volatile situation. It is bound to burn you. Remember, each sin is a brick in a wall that separates us more and more from Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala). Let’s break down that wall brick by brick, or better let’s not let those bricks accumulate to separate us from our Beloved, Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala).
So, those are the 3 post-sin etiquettes: owning up to one’s mistake, apologizing, and following it with a good deed. May we In Sha’ Allah be among those who are mentioned in this hadith by the Prophet (Salah Allah Alayhe Wa Salam):
“I know the last of inhabitants of Paradise to enter it and the last of the inhabitants of Hell to come out it. He is a man who would be brought on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: ‘Present his minor sins to him, and withhold from him his serious sins.’ Then the minor sins would be placed before him, and it would be said: ‘On such and such day you did so and so and on such and such day you did so and so.’ He would say: ‘Yes.’ It will not be possible for him to deny, while he would be afraid lest serious sins should be presented before him. It would be said to him: ‘In place of every evil deed you will have good deed. ‘He will (then) say: ‘My Lord! I have done things that I do not see here.’ I indeed saw the Mesenger of Allah laugh till his front teeth were exposed. [Sahih Muslim]
O’ Allah grant us the best post-sin etiquettes at times when we disobey you, and accept us when we turn back to you after a long separation. A separation we alone are at fault for. Ameen.